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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Scotland Wins 36th International Team Farrier Competition at Stoneleigh

It takes teamwork, as well as superb skill, to shoe horses all day in the world's stiffest team competition and emerge the winners. But the Scottish team did that this weekend at the 36th International Team Competition at the showgrounds in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, England. From left: Wayne Balfour (alternate), Lewis Balfour, David Varini, Team Manager (and proud father) James Balfour holds the trophy, Derek Gardner, Devin Crerar. (Thanks to Steve Cave photography and Jonathan Nunn for this photo, used with permission)

The early report from England is that the fires are cooling in the massive forges on the showgrounds in Stoneleigh, England tonight. Now, instead of hammers on anvils, you might hear bagpipes fading into the distance.

The grounds were the setting of one of the most legendary events in farrier competition. The 36th International Team Championships attracts teams from as far away as the United States and Canada. Climbing up a mere place on the ladder from one year to the next can be a victory for some nations, who watch the teams representing the home soil of the British Isles fending off challengers at the top of the scoreboard, year after year.

England won in 2012, 2013, and 2014. British farrier Jonathan Nunn sent over the photo from Stoneleigh and quoted Scottish team manager Jim Balfour as saying that this was Scotland's first win since 1997.

Team Scotland was followed by the English, with Ireland in third place, and the USA in fourth, followed by Sweden. Other nations' placings are not known at this early date.

US readers will be happy to know that the "Best Shod Foot" on Sunday was won by Victor Frisco of Team USA. This is second-hand information via British Farriers and Blacksmiths Association President Cliff Barnes.

Top five team placings: 

1 Scotland
2 England
3 Ireland
5 Sweden

In 2014, Scotland was fourth.

It was a big day for the Balfour family of Dundee, Scotland. It wasn't long ago that Jim, now the manager, was competing at Stoneleigh himself, and now there's a new generation of his family. But the farrier world is like that: you blink and it's all changed, but you look closer and some of the faces look familiar...

Competing at Stoneleigh is one of the most unforgettable experiences a competition farrier can have. Just getting there is a superb accomplishment. Safe home to all, and enjoy your memories from the top of the world.

Many thanks to Gill Harris and Jonathan Nunn for their assistance with details today. 

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